Creative Writing: On Read-Throughs and Edits (they don’t mix!)

A tale of two books about magic....One at its end, one just beginning

A tale of two books about magic….One at its end, one just beginning

Now that I’ve ordered my proof copy on “The King’s Sons” (YEA!), while I’m waiting for it to come in I’ve finally opened up the file for the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel from last year.

Oh my gosh. I’m hoping to turn it into something awesome, but it’s such a mess right now. In so many ways. At this point I’m kind of functioning as my own worst enemy where it’s concerned.

I am trying to do so many things at once….. Primarily, I’m just trying to do a read-through. You know, read the novel and take notes when something strikes me as off, so that I can fix it later. Simultaneously, I’m doing so many other things. Allow me to explain:

  • Since I’m just coming off a big editing run, my impulse is to edit as I go. And that’s counterproductive to the purpose of a read-through. I need to READ the work as quickly as I can, to get a glimpse of it in its entirety. Editing is for later.
  • I don’t know where to take this new story, because it’s definitely the first installment of a two-parter, or maybe another trilogy. It’s got some loose ends. So I keep trying to determine where I can go with it…. Or whether I can go anywhere with it. Essentially, I’m thinking beyond the book.
  • I’m wondering whether or not I’m wasting my time, since there’s a chance I might not be able to do a thing with this book. If I can’t figure out how to continue it, it can’t stand alone. It does have its own story and its own arc, but that arc takes place in the middle of a war which is not resolved by novel’s end, and in fact, is only starting to heat up.

While I definitely hope I can figure things out and write a second part to bring the storyline full circle–a couple of the new characters are really, really special to me–I’m trying to accept that it might not be possible. If nothing else, the novel only took me two months to write (thanks to NaNoWriMo), so if I do have to scrap it, it’s not that much time lost. And I gained lots of experience from crafting this thing, let me tell you! I’ll carry that with me whether or not I ever publish the book.

My plan is this: Finish the read-through of novel 2 (as it shouldn’t take long.) Then go through that proof copy of novel 1 currently in transit. Hope that reading novel 2 will create some spark of inspiration while I’m getting novel 1 ready to publish, so that when I publish, I can jump straight back to novel 2 with new confidence, sure that I can eventually publish that novel as well as finish up the story in a second (or second and third) installment.

I think people should talk about "grasping at rainbows" instead of "grasping at straws" when you're doing anything possible to make something work....

I think people should talk about “grasping at rainbows” instead of “grasping at straws” when you’re doing anything possible to make something work….

I have no idea if things will work out that way. We shall see!!!! Anyway, some quick takeaways for you from this update:

  • This is the first time I’ve ever waited a full two months between finishing a first draft and opening the file again. It’s really created the distance I need to judge its merits. I’m happy about that. (Stephen King suggests letting a draft sit for two months minimum).
  • Basic, but: a large portion of productivity, where fiction is concerned, is focus. Sometimes a writer really needs to force herself to focus on the task at hand. (No editing. No plotting sequels. No worrying about the project being wasted time. Just reading.)
  • Having multiple projects kind of suits me (and it might suit you.) I like having one to fall back on when another is stalling or I need some down-time from it. Then I can go to the other project, and still make progress of some kind while letting the problem project sit.
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2 responses to “Creative Writing: On Read-Throughs and Edits (they don’t mix!)

  1. I imagine a NaNoWriMo novel would be all rough edges because of the time involved. It’s interesting to see the after-effects of it. I hope your read through is successful.

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